Wading chest high through raging rivers, camping for five days in the Sumatran rainforest and trekking through tropical storms to glimpse orang-utans are not the activities you’d expect of a 79-year-old grandmother.
But that’s exactly what the latest adventure that tireless fundraiser Shirley Butler from Eastwood has just returned from.
The grandmother-of-five has raised £40,000 for Scope, the charity for children with cerebral palsy, over the past 10 years.
And despite vowing she would hang up her boots after her latest trip to the jungles of Indonesia, the incredible fundraiser – dubbed ‘Super Gran’ – is gearing up for one more challenge in her 80th year.
“I was getting a bit too close to the big 8-0,” she explained.
“So while I’m still feeling fit and strong I’m going to do just one more trip.”
And being fit and strong was what was required of Shirley on her 11th trip, which involved a 60-mile trek through dense rainforest in basic conditions.
“I am not sure at this stage if I will ever recover as it was the hardest trek I have ever undertaken.
“The hardest but at the same time the most exhilarating.”
She fought against the pull of the undercurrent as they crossed a river, chest-high in water.
Her team of 11 followed their guide as he hacked through the jungle with a machete, encountering all manner of creepy crawlies, fruits, flowers, birds and animals, including monkeys and sun bears.
“It was a great experience and one I will cherish forever,” she said.
Finally the group were taken to see wild orang-utans.
“Above us was the most enormous orange beast I have ever seen – I likened it to seeing King Kong at the top of the tower,” explained Shirley, who retired from Nottinghamshire County Council nearly 15 years ago.
“To have been part of this I felt like the most privileged person to have ever walked on this planet.
“Orang-utans, creepy crawlies, leeches – all part of the experience.”
She raised £3,500 for Scope during the trip.
Her previous treks have taken her to the deserts of Egypt and she became the oldest woman to climb Mount Roraima in Venezuela – all in aid of the charity.
Debbie Bines, head of events at Scope, said: “Shirley is an amazing woman and the money raised by her challenges helps Scope support disabled people to overcome their own challenges in life.
“For example, thanks to people like Shirley, we’re able to provide support, advice and information to more than 250,000 disabled people and their family members every year.
“If we didn’t have fundraisers like Shirley, this simply wouldn’t be possible.”
Her 2014 trip will see her visit the jungles of Burma.
If you want to add to the £40,000 she has raised in the last ten years, call Shirley on 01773 716655.